Wednesday, April 16, 2008

GETTING RID OF CHRONIC PAIN: Yoga for the Young at Heart

My lower back is tight, the hamstrings are tighter, and my hard drive is on overwhelm, so it's time to head out for my 90 minutes at Black Dog Yoga in Sherman Oaks, California. 

Yoga studios are everywhere around Los Angeles but I like Black Dog. It's really clean with shining hardwood floors, a serene atmosphere and super friendly people. Finding the right yoga instructor seems to be all about chemistry, and I have found my few.  

A cross-section of the community comes here, from the young--I mean really young, like 7 years old--to matrons (does that include me, I hope not) to senior citizens. Black Dog is located at a major business intersection in Sherman Oaks so the parking is easy especially in the weekend day mornings. For better or worse, this make it more appealing. 

There's always a hushed atmosphere in the studio even though lots of us talk before class. Sigrid Matthews is my favorite instructor. She always starts off  with a short meditation and then a reminder about intention and awareness and some short relevant reading. 

I've decided my awareness point is about two inches below my navel. There's a heart-beat there that aims me in the direction of peace and tranquility. I'm getting an audio tape from a therapist, sort of a hypnotherapy kind of thing, that is supposed to focus attention and blot out the other stuff. We'll see. She has an on-going practice at Black Dog, too, but with a different instructor in a much more demanding class.

So, 90 minutes later I head home in a better frame of mind and soul than I arrived. Give yoga a chance whether you have chronic physical pain or mental pain or just a case of ennui. At first it can be intimidating, but keep at it, the pay-off might be in the next moment or ease of breath. 

Back at my home, lots of that peacefulness flies out the window. The swimming pool next door is heated up and the kids are out there screaming Marco Polo in a happy boy-boisterous sort of way. If the gardeners, news helicopters, and cars all went away I could probably hear the humming bird just outside the window. It's amazing how he keeps those wings going. I wonder if he feels at peace with that constant motion or if he is hyper-tense. 

So far, no one seems to know the answer. So you suppose humming birds are at peace as long as their wings are fluttering at that amazing speed that never seems to stop?

I'm open for answers here.